A program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Spark Tank Small Business Competition Official Rules


Summary: Capital One (the “Sponsor”) announces the 2019 Spark Tank pitch-off competition to recognize the most deserving veteran or military spouse owned small business and award them a cash prize they may use to fund growth in their business. Prize competition initial submissions consist of a five-minute video and submission of a business overview. Finalists will be required to present at a live pitch-off competition during the BRAVO Small Business Conference on August 9, 2019.

Overview: The Sponsors are seeking to identify the nation’s most worthy up and coming Veteran or Military Spouse owned Small Business. Small Businesses such as these are vital to bringing growth and innovation to local communities and often provide employment opportunities to people who may not be, or may not desire to be, employable by large corporations.  The cash prize for the winning business can serve to accelerate the growth and scale of the business.

Prize for Winner: The Sponsors will award a $10,000 cash prize to the winning business for use towards business growth. Additional Finalists may be recognized with non-monetary awards at the discretion of the Sponsors.

Dates: The competition submission form will be open on or before midnight EST July 1, 2019, at https://www.hiringourheroes.org/bravo/sparktank. Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on July 19, 2019. Finalists will be alerted by July 26, 2019. The Winner will be awarded on August 9, 2019.

Questions: Emails can be sent to HOHdigitalprograms@uschamber.com.



Prizes for Finalists: Each Finalist Representative will receive roundtrip coach air transportation for the Eligible Representative (as outlined below) and a guest from the major commercial airport nearest to the location of the attending Representative to the Event location (up to $600 for those >300 miles from event), and two (2) nights at a moderate hotel, double occupancy. The Finalist and guest must complete a travel release form prior to travel. Travel details and requirements will be provided back to the Finalists by July 30th, 2019. Except for the travel, Finalists will not receive any monetary compensation or acknowledgment for participation in the Competition. All other expenses incurred by Finalists and their guest during participation in the Competition (including food, transportation, and incidentals) not included as part of the travel provided by Sponsor is the responsibility of the Finalist. 

Prize for the Winner: The Sponsors will supply a cash prize totaling $10,000 under this contest. Prizes will be disbursed via the Automated Clearing House (ACH). The payment will be disbursed once all initial requirements have been met (e.g. full business information received, background check cleared, etc).  It is estimated the payment will be made within 90 days of Sponsors receiving all required information. By accepting the payment the winner agrees to complete a video interview with Capital One. The purpose of the video will be to check in with the winner to see how they used the money within their company to impact their business.  The interview must be completed no later than twelve (12) months after the winner receives their prize payment. The interview, or portions thereof, may be made public.  Additionally, the winner agrees to grant Capital One an irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to use materials, concepts, and other similar items of intellectual property proposed in, or developed during operations conducted pursuant to, the video interview for purposes consistent with the Capital One’s mission.

Taxes to be issued in the name of the Eligible Business designated as the prize winner (associated Business Tax ID#). All taxes, costs, and expenses relating to acceptance and use of Prize, which are not explicitly listed herein as being awarded, are the responsibility of the Prize Winning Business. If the Prize is declined it will not be reimbursed and the Sponsors reserve the right to determine whether to award the prize to another Finalist.


Eligibility Rules for Participating in the Competition: This Competition is open to all Eligible businesses, as defined below. Entities that have an outstanding, unresolved financial obligation to, or that are currently suspended or debarred by, the Federal Government are not eligible for this Contest. Federal, state, local and tribal agencies are also not eligible for this Contest.

Eligible Businesses: Businesses in this Contest must meet all of the following criteria:

  • >50% owned by one, or a combination of, the Eligible Groups as designated below
  • Legally registered to conduct business in one of the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia, or a territory of the United States
  • Independently owned and operated, sole-proprietary, non-franchised, and not part of any other established parent or partner business(es)
  • Founded and engaged in active daily operation no later than July 1, 2019
  • Employing 50 or fewer employees (including full-time and part-time employees) as of July 1, 2019
  • Has maintained operations up to and including at least July 1, 2019, and thereafter until August 9, 2019

Eligible Groups: The following categories are eligible for the contest:

A – Veteran of the Armed Forces – defined as is in Title 38 U.S.C; “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”


B – Reserve and National Guard members not on (Title 10 orders) or on active duty, or

performing official duties, from 1 July – 9 August


C – Military Spouse – defined as:

(1) a spouse of a member of the Armed Forces on active duty; or

(2) a spouse of a Veteran of the Armed Forces as described above; or

(3) a spouse of a disabled or deceased member of the Armed Forces.


D – Family Caregiver – an individual who provides personal care services to a Veteran in accordance with Title 38 U.S.C. 1720G.

Business Representative: Each Eligible Business must designate a person with >15% ownership who will serve as the Business’s sole representative for communications, presentations, and all other purposes in connection with the Contest (the “Eligible Business Representative”). The Eligible Business Representative must have the ability to bind the business (as defined below) to all agreements, consents, representations, and warranties made herein or otherwise made by the Eligible Business Representative in connection with the Contest. Any person submitting an entry on behalf of a Business must have authorization of all registered Owners to submit the Entry. Such authorization must include the Eligible Business’ agreement to be bound by all of the terms and conditions of these Official Rules. Note: if the Eligible Business is owned by more than one (1) person, all owners (whether equal partners or partial ownership) agree to allow the Entrant to represent the business and acknowledge any and all prizes will be redeemed in the name of the Eligible Business.

Contestants: Each business will designate a Business Representative as outlined above, however for the purpose of the terms and conditions outlined in this document, all business owners are “Contestants” and must meet the applicable criteria where outlined.

Terms and Conditions: During the submission period, a review panel will initially screen submissions for eligibility and compliance with the rules of this challenge.  A submission that fails to meet the eligibility and compliance criteria may be disqualified and may be ineligible for prizes. Eligibility determinations will be made by Sponsor, in its discretion, will be final and binding including disqualification of any Contestant, at any time, for any reason. The following terms and conditions apply:

  • The Business Representative must be an individual U.S. citizen or permanent resident(s) of the United States, representing (2) an entity incorporated in and maintaining a primary place of business in the United States
  • Only one submission allowed per Eligible Business
  • Any Contestant who, as of the date of entry (and, if a winner, as of the date of prize fulfillment) are employees of any Sponsor or any of the Sponsors’ parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates or advertising or promotion agencies, and members of the immediate family or household (whether or not related) of any such employee, are not eligible. For purposes of this Contest, “immediate family members” means parents, spouses, children, siblings, in-laws, grandmothers, or grandfathers.
  • Publicity: Contestants understand that entrants retain all copyright and equivalent rights but give Sponsors non-exclusive rights to use their names, likenesses, voice, opinions, and quotes for educational, publicity, and/or promotional purposes. This includes, but is not limited to, website display, print materials, and social media worldwide, without further payment or consideration.
  • Interested parties must also agree to indemnify the Sponsors against third-party claims for damages arising from or related to competition activities.
  • By participating in the challenge, each Eligible Business agrees to comply with and abide by these official rules, terms and conditions and the decisions of the Sponsors, which will be final and binding in all respects.
  • Sponsors have the final say on any point not outlined in the entry rules.

Conflicts of Interest: No individual acting as a judge at any stage of this Competition may have personal or financial interests in, or be an employee, officer, director, or agent of any contestant or have a familial or financial relationship with a contestant.

Intellectual Property Rights: All entries submitted in response to this Competition will remain the sole intellectual property of the individuals or organizations that developed them. By registering and entering a submission, each contestant represents and warrants that it is the sole author and copyright owner of the submission, and that the submission is an original work of the contestant, or if the submission is a work based on an existing application, that the contestant has acquired sufficient rights to use and to authorize others to use the submission, and that the submission does not infringe upon any copyright or upon any other third party rights of which the contestant is aware. Additionally, by registering and entering a submission, each contestant agrees to grant the Sponsors an irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to use materials, concepts, and other similar items of intellectual property proposed in or developed during operations conducted pursuant to, its submission for purposes consistent with the Sponsor’s mission.

Liability and Insurance Requirements: By registering and entering a submission, each contestant agrees to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the Federal Government and its related entities, except in the case of willful misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from their participation in this Competition, whether the injury, death, damage, or loss arises through negligence or otherwise. Given this Competition does not involve potentially hazardous activities, contestants are not required to obtain liability insurance or demonstrate financial resources to cover claims by a third party for death, bodily injury, or property damage or loss resulting from any activity it carries out in connection with its participation in this Competition, or claims by the Sponsors for damage or loss to Sponsor property resulting from such an activity.

Record Retention and Disclosure: All submissions and related materials provided to Sponsors in the course of this Competition automatically become Sponsor records and cannot be returned. Contestants should identify any confidential commercial information contained in their entries at the time of their submission.

Disclaimer: Sponsors and their agents are not responsible for:

  • Any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by contestants, printing errors, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Competition;
  • Technical failure of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software.
  • Unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Competition.
  • Technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Competition or the processing of entries; or
  • Any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from Contestant’s participation in the Competition or receipt, use or misuse of any prize.
  • If for any reason a contestant’s entry is confirmed to have been erroneously deleted, lost, or otherwise destroyed or corrupted, contestant’s sole remedy is to submit another entry in the Competition, provided it is submitted before the initial screening of entries is completed.
  • Sponsors reserve the right to extend the Contest Period, Entry Submission Period and adjust the remaining dates of the Contest Period if insufficient Entries are received by the end of the Entry Submission Period.
  • Sponsors reserve the right to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest if the Contest is not capable of being completed as planned for any reason


How To Enter

Requirements: Contestants should review all Rules before entering the Contest.

Initial Submissions: All Submissions must enter through https://www.hiringourheroes.org/bravo/sparktank. Necessary steps and considerations include the following:

Register at the Contest website, https://www.hiringourheroes.org/bravo/sparktank. Registration will only be open between July 1, 2019, and July 15, 2019.

  • Upload submission, with all required information, in the designated fields.
  • At a minimum, submissions must include:
    • Basic contact details including
      • Names of all Contestants as outlined above
      • Name, email, phone number, and address of the individual identified as the Business Representative who is willing/able to travel to the final pitch-off on August 9, 2019 if chosen as a Finalist
      • Details as to which Eligible Groups the Contestants (Owners) belong
      • Legal Business Name, Address, Date of Creation, and Website (if applicable)
      • A brief business summary describing the contestant’s industry, products and/or services, primary revenue streams and costs, time in business, and performance to-date. This may be submitted as a Word Document, Google Document, PDF, or PowerPoint File.
    • A maximum five (5) minute video. The video must be posted to either YouTube or Google Drive. The URL link to the video must be included in the submission and must be accessible to all Contest judges. The video must respond to the following topics:
      • What makes my/our business unique?
      • How my/our company would benefit from winning this competition.
      • The philosophy I/we adhere to when it comes to growing/scaling my/our business
    • Submissions must not include business or personal information not specifically requested by these Rules, for example, social security numbers should not be included with a submission.
    • Submission is Free of Charge.
    • No Sponsor logo – The application must not use any of the Sponsors’ logos, trademarks or any official identifiers in the Submission and must not claim Sponsors’ endorsement. The award of a prize in this Competition does not constitute an endorsement of a specific entity, service, or product by any of the Sponsors.

Finalist Notification: The potential Finalists will receive an email notification on or about July 26, 2019. Potential Finalists will be required to sign and properly execute the following documents and return them via email (and subsequently by mail per instructions to be provided) by 3:00 PM ET on July 29, 2019:

  • Affidavit of Eligibility and Release
  • A Publicity Release
  • A W9 Form (completed in the name of the Eligible Business, with the associated business tax id #)
  • Verification of Eligibility (Entrant verification as Representative of the Eligible Business)
  • A Background Check Release Form.

If the Eligible Business has multiple owners (full or partial), all owners may be required to sign/complete required documentation as communicated in the email notification. If any documents sent by any means to a potential Finalist are returned as undeliverable or if a potential Finalist fails to properly execute and return all documents described herein in the time noted, or if a potential Finalist is found not to be eligible or not in compliance with these Official Rules, that potential Finalist will be disqualified. At the sole discretion of the Sponsor, the next highest scoring Entrant will move up and be notified as a potential Finalist, time permitting. All Finalists are considered “Potential” pending submission of required documents and verification of eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules. All three (3) Finalists may not be determined if an insufficient number of eligible entries is received or all potential Semi-Finalists cannot be notified and verified within the time provided. SEMI-FINALISTS MUST BE ABLE TO ATTEND THE DESIGNATED EVENT TO BE ELIGIBLE TO WIN. The Winner will be notified live during the networking session portion of the BRAVO event on August 9, 2019.

Pitch Competition: All Finalist Representatives will be required to provide an in-person pitch of their business during the BRAVO Small Business Conference on August 9, 2019, in McLean, Virginia. Pitches should be delivered by no more than two (2) representatives. Finalists should limit physical displays due to limited set-up time (for instance a small prop is acceptable as a visual aid, but presenters will not have time to set up booths or complex physical demos). Presenters who would like to accompany themselves with a PowerPoint presentation should supply the .PPT file to HOHdigitalprograms@uschamber.com by August 7, 2019. Any accompanying videos should be submitted to the same email address but must be submitted as full files, not embedded in the .PPT or provided as YouTube/Google Drive links. All decisions around what to include should bear in mind the firm time limit of thirteen (13) minutes per Finalist with a recommended ten (10) minutes of content and three (3) minutes for Q&A. Recommended minimum content includes, but is certainly not limited to:

  • A brief overview of the business
  • The business model and journey to-date
  • How the prize money would be spent if won


Judging Criteria

Selection Panel: A panel of judges consisting of Patriot Bootcamp will select 10 semifinalists that best meet the intent of this Contest.  Three finalists will then be selected by a panel consisting of Capital One judges. The 3 finalists will present to a panel of esteemed judges with various areas of expertise along with an audience of peer business owners.

Judging to Determine Ten (10) Semi-Finalists and (3) Finalists: At the conclusion of the Entry Submission Period, all eligible Entries received will be judged by Patriot Bootcamp based on the following judging criteria (“Judging Criteria”), for a total potential score of 100 points:

  • Entrant’s overall business plan and viability (25 points)
  • Entrant’s ability to articulate a response to: “What makes my/our business unique” (25 points)
  • Entrant’s ability to articulate a response to: “Why my/our company would benefit from winning this competition” (25 points)
  • Entrant’s ability to articulate a response to: “What is the philosophy I/we adhere to when it comes to growing/scaling my/our business” (25 points)

Based on the scores, the ten (10) highest scoring Entrants will be deemed potential Semi-Finalists, subject to verification of eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules.

In the event of a tie(s), all tied Entries will be re-judged by an additional judge selected by the Sponsors, who, using the Judging Criteria, will break the tie(s).

Capital One will then review the ten (10) highest scoring submissions to select the three (3) Finalists for the pitch-off competition. The three (3) finalists will be notified as indicated above. The judges’ decisions are final and binding in all matters relating to this Contest. All Entries are subject to verification of eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules.

Judging to Determine Winner: The pitch of the Finalists will be judged by a panel of judges (“Judges”) designated by the Sponsors in conjunction with the results of the live audience vote, weighted as a “judge”. The Judges will rate the Finalists as follows:

  • Performance and Viability of Business (33%)
    • Extent to which the business demonstrates the potential value for owners, customers, and the community
    • Long-term viability of the company as displayed through expertise, organization, planning, etc.
  • Innovation / Creativity (33%)
    • Extent to which the business serves a new need or solves a problem from a new angle
  • Passion, Engagement, and Selling Ability (33%)
    • Extent to which the Judges feel the Representatives exemplify their excitement, energy, passion, etc. in the business presented
    • Extent to which the presentation is polished, clear, and professional
    • Extent to which the business may benefit the community, a veteran or military spouse group, or other entity


A Program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation